In this workplace mediation, panel member Joseph Mulrooney was instructed to mediate a workplace dispute for a national company. The dispute had seen one staff member absent from work for 5 months due to work related stress.
The dispute had its roots in a breakdown of relations between the employee and the employee’s line manager. HR had tried to intervene on several occasions but without success, and so they contacted Mediatelegal.
We held several calls with HR to discuss the matter, and to advise them of the suggested format and our fees. Once they were satisfied with the process, we agreed a date and asked for an overview of the dispute.
Joseph Mulrooney then contacted each employee to introduce himself, to answer any questions, and to explain the mediation process.
Finally, we issued the workplace mediation agreement, an introductory email (to be forwarded to the employees), and our invoice.
Joseph met with each of the employees separately, in a private session lasting for approximately 90 minutes. These sessions are designed to allow the employee to discuss – amongst other things – their version of events, what they hope to achieve, and what they would like to avoid. The mediator will ask a number of questions in order to, for example, draw out more information or to help the employee to look at an issue form a different perspective.
In this case both employees agreed to hold a joint session, and were able to talk freely to one another. Joseph held further private and joint sessions.
Eventually it became clear that this dispute in fact had its roots in several miscommunications from as far back as 4 years prior to the mediation. They had simmered away in the background, without ever being properly explored and discussed.
The workplace mediation allowed the employees to clear up the previous issues to their satisfaction. They were then able to put together a set of steps they would each follow in order to lower any tension between them, and to allow them to rebuild their working relationship.
Once they had written down and signed these steps, Joseph called in the Head of Group HR who confirmed that the employer was able and willing to support the employees in accommodating these steps into their working timetable.
An example of the flexibility that arises from a mediation is that one of the key steps agreed here was for the two employees to meet for 15 minutes for a hot drink away form the shop floor.
The employee also agreed to return to work following the next occupational health appointment.
Mediation is excellent for helping to resolve deep seated workplace disputes. It is a quick and flexible process. However, workplace mediation can reduce the impact of a dispute by using it when the dispute is in its infancy. Why risk losing a good employee to ill health or resignation when there is a mediation process available to provide a solution?
Our workplace mediation service is usually booked in half day blocks. You can find more information here.